One of the symptoms that people find most troubling is the decrease in “mental sharpness” they experience when they stop smoking. This may seem odd since carbon monoxide, which deprives your brain, your heart, and just about every organ in your body of oxygen, drops to normal within 12 hours of quitting.
So, why does smoking help with concentration when its effects on your lungs, brain, and cardiovascular system all conspire to make you less sharp? The answer is nicotine. Nicotine helps smokers concentrate and when nicotine is withdrawn, smokers feel it. Fortunately, nicotine gum can replace the nicotine you miss. Nicotine replacement therapy can help you concentrate—and so can caffeine.
Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea, etc.), can help you maintain focus. But be careful. Your body doesn’t process caffeine well in the first few weeks after quitting smoking, which can make caffeine’s effects stronger than what you may be used to. It will also last longer in your system. For that reason, it is best to have your last cup of caffeine well before 2 p.m. Of course, we don’t recommend drinking coffee if coffee is a trigger for you to smoke. There a lots of ways to consume small, measured quantities of caffeine.
You have ways to fight the symptoms of withdrawal. Think about which symptoms you believe might undermine your chances of success and take steps to minimize them.
This information is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.